In recent decades, kibbutzniks have grappled with crippling bank debt, membership attrition and the waning of the collectivist ethic on which the country was founded.
Now, in belated recognition of the demise of their utopian ethic and Israel's shift to capitalism from socialism, a majority of kibbutzes are scrapping their egalitarian salary schemes and allowing members to live each according to their own earning power.
That part about members living according to their own earning power is the key there.
"The contemporary kibbutz doesn't provide answers for life needs, and most important in my eyes, people's aspirations," said Mr. Rogalin. "The kibbutz creates too much friction. The secretariat dictates too many things to members. And people want more freedom to take responsibility for their lives."
The process has been quietly proceeding for years, though Israelis took notice two weeks ago with the privatization of Kibbutz Degania, the first kibbutz established on the Sea of Galilee in 1909. With two-thirds of the 273 kibbutzes across Israel already privatized, the change at Degania was a ringing reminder of the seemingly inevitable extinction of the kibbutz as Israelis know it.
See, they made a fatal mistake. They let people have a choice as to whether they could leave. You have to build a fence to keep them in. With dogs and Jack booted thugs. Didn't they learn anything from the Communists?
We didn't think if we were earning or losing money; we thought about what was good for the country," said Yossi Katz, now 83, the founder of Kibbutz Ga'ash."We were sure the entire country would become socialist."
Walking past the seedy building that housed Ga'ash's first chicken coop and the boarded-up old dining hall, he acknowledged that the kibbutz lifestyle could be oppressive and suffocating.
The kibbutz compelled members to turn over private possessions for public use. Children were even raised in communal dorms rather than in their parents' homes. Social life revolved around the dining hall. A kibbutz committee approved plans for higher education and careers. Whoever left was considered a traitor.
See, being called a "traitor" just isn't enough incentive to remain in a socialist utopioa. Gulags and stuff like that will do the trick. Although, at times I wouldn't mind a dorm for the kids.
"I know that if I work hard, that I'll earn the same as the person living next to me who works less," explained Sharon Tirosh, 31, director of human resources at Ga'ash, who also supports the change.
"There is something in the education, that begins at the bottom, that there's no point in being terribly successful.".
And, in a tangentally related article, which I don't feel like expanding upon right now, one in two Americans now receives income from government programs. That should frighten you. It does me.